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'Guardians of the Galaxy' is pure summer fun

'Guardians of the Galaxy' is now playing.
'Guardians of the Galaxy' is now playing.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Guardians of the galaxy

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It’s hard to determine when it happened, but Chris Pratt might be a movie star.

I mean, not too long ago, Pratt seemed perfectly content to play the lovably doughy doofus (NBC's Parks & Recreation) or the best friend in a rom-com alongside bigger names (The Five-Year Engagement, Delivery Man).

So when it came time to tap the lead for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, I can’t say I would have guessed there was a David sculpture physique buried within Pratt. But as Peter Quill (or Star-Lord, as his character prefers), he’s morphed himself into a chiseled hero—he's the hot guy with the greatest sense of humor and personality.

And you need that guy to be the face of a movie like this, because let’s be honest, a space comic book flick about a band of alien misfits saving the galaxy isn’t the easiest of sells beyond the fanboy culture. Pratt’s biggest coup though might be the fact that, based on years of schilling his hilarity, you know you’re going to have a really good time with him in the driver’s seat.

And that brings everyone along in Guardians. All of a sudden it kind of makes sense that a wise-cracking, gun-loving anthropomorphic raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a walking tree trunk with a heart of gold called Groot (voiced by Vin Deisel) would end up with Pratt. And Zoe Saldana has pretty much cornered the market of hot babe from a galaxy far away at this point, so she’s kind of a no-brainer. Throwing in professional wrestler Dave Bautista into the mix as Drax the Destroyer? Sure, why not.

Because this is a Marvel universe few will be familiar with, the movie does have to work hard and fast to set up a whole new world. So you get a quick backstory and a lot of galaxy orientation. Stripped down to the basics, the plot involves one rogue villian named Ronan (gotta love a game Lee Pace) intent on destroying an entire planet by using an orb that’s in the possession of Peter and his crew.

Peter makes a living as a thief so, when he accidentally steals the orb Ronan needs to destroy everything, he becomes a target. Along the way, Peter becomes entangled with the rest of the crew because they all want the same thing—money, the orb or in Drax’s case, Ronan’s destruction.

Luckily the story centers more on the shenanigans of the gang rather than the convoluted orb details. When it does move into this territory, the story gets bogged down, but the special effects are pretty great and the cast is first-rate. You also get one of the quirkiest soundtracks of any Marvel or comic book movie out there. Peter is actually from our planet, you see, and he is taken by aliens as kid back in 1988 right after his mom dies. What he takes with him everywhere is a Walkman (look it up, kids) with a mixtape his mom made him of all the 1970s pop music she loved to listen to. Hence, jams like “Hooked on a Feeling” take us through the galaxy.

Everyone knows August is a precarious month in the summer blockbuster season. Most of the great movies have already hit, but Guardians easily ranks among the best from the summer crop.

Guardians of the Galaxy is now playing in theaters.